Managed Access is a fishery management tool that protects stocks by identifying the traditional users of an area and granting only them access to fish commercially within that area. It has proven successful at sites throughout the world but, until recently, had never been applied in the Caribbean or Central America. At the forefront of progressive fisheries management in the developing world, the Belize Fisheries Department launched Managed Access in the general use zones of the Port Honduras Marine Rerserve and Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve in 2011 in collaboration with its partners, TIDE, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The aim is to ensure the sustainability of Belize’s fisheries and secure the livelihoods of its fishers for the long term.
So how does it work? The first step is to identify the fishers who should be given access. To do this in a fair and transparent manner, the Port Honduras Marine Reserve Community Managed Access Committee was formed. The Committee is composed of representatives from Monkey River, Punta Negra, Punta Gorda, the Rio Grande Fishing Cooperative, Toledo Tour Guide Association, Belize Fisheries Department and TIDE. The Committee identifies fishers who meet the qualifying criteria – holding a commercial fishing license, being a Belizean resident, having a history of using the area and landing their catch in Belize – and recommends them to the Fisheries Administrator at the Fisheries Department, who grants the licenses. The next step is to patrol the reserve and ensure that only Managed Access license-holders are conducting commercial fishing.
Although it is too early to tell the impacts on stocks of commercial species (e.g. conch, lobster, sea cucumber and fish), Managed Access fishermen have seen much improved catches of lobster and conch and participation in forums has trebled.
Lessons learned during the two-year pilot in the Port Honduras Marine Reserve and at Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve are informing fisheries management throughout Belize and even globally.
The Fisheries Department have been ensuring fishers are fully engaged in the process through a series of workshops - See attached pdf